During the 1899 South African War, the Duke of Cornwall, Prince of Wales Regiment built a fort on the highest hill, south of Pretoria, on a farm owned by the Van der Byl family. Over the years, the hill became known as “Cornwall Hill”. In the mid-1990s the hill and surroundings were turned into a high-end housing estate named Cornwall Hill Estate and Mr Van der Byl donated some of the land for the building of a new private school, to be named Cornwall Hill College.
Despite being just over 20 years old, Cornwall Hill College has three interesting historical ties with events dating back to the late 19th and early and mid 20th centuries. The first two events are directly associated with Cornwall in England, while the third event ties in with local history.
Firstly, our College is so named because of its close proximity to Cornwall Hill, a prominent hill south of Pretoria, on which a fort was built by the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, at the time of the Anglo-Boer War. Their task was to safeguard the railway line between Johannesburg and Pretoria. As a result of the area’s historical ties with Cornwall in England, we have created a Cornish theme in our College. Our crest, credo and uniform tartan are all derived from the Duke of Cornwall’s heraldry and dress codes, while the four ‘houses’ are named after Cornish cities.
The second historical tie with the past revolves around a Grade 12 learner of 2003, her great, great grandfather, Howard Lamb and her grandfather, Colin Duff. Howard Lamb, a fisherman, was also captain of a lifeboat that operated along the Cornish coast. His grandson, Colin Duff, often accompanied him on rescue missions. Visitors to our Library and Resources Centre will notice a ship’s bell mounted on a wall in the entrance foyer. The bell was cast in the United Kingdom in 1899 and was fitted to a ship called the Mariposa, which was commissioned for service in January 1900. In May of the same year, while sailing along the Cornish coast, the Mariposa caught fire and was beached. She was later re-floated, refurbished, sold and renamed. The original bell somehow landed in Howard Lamb’s possession and he in turn gave Colin Duff the bell “in recognition for his help in rescues and for being the youngest lad to ably assist in sea rescues!” Years later Colin Duff’s widow donated the bell to Cornwall Hill College, in honour of her granddaughter.
Thirdly, the site on which Cornwall Hill College is built was originally the municipal refuse dumping site for Irene! The symbolism stemming from the “then and now” speaks of creating something great out of nothing! This points uniquely to the growth and development of Cornwall Hill College, an institution that has literally grown out of what was essentially an eyesore created to absorb society’s cast-offs, to its becoming a highly sought after educational institution! This is amply borne out by the phenomenal growth and development of our School, not only in relation to the buildings and state-of-the-art facilities but more importantly, in the holistic nurturing, moulding and educating of our pupils from their “raw material” years in the Pre-school to their becoming locally relevant and internationally competitive young adults in Grade 12.
To maintain the connection with the past, the founders of the School decided to use symbols associated with the Duke and his Regiment.